By Lolade Sowoolu
He is one of the returnee music players gaining follower ship by the day. Good looks, raunchy dance moves and a velvety voice are some of the qualities that’ ave endeared him to so many.
Olubankole Wellington was born in United States but brought to Nigeria for primary and secondary schooling before returning to the States when he was 17. Third in a family of four siblings, his first stage performance in Nigeria was at the debut of the Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA) in Lagos, 2008 where he performed Ebute Metta, a re mix of Rihanna’s famous Umbrella.
That was the beginning of his music career in Nigeria as he went on to release his first Nigerian hit album titled Çapable. And that was the seal as Banky joined other A-list artistes and additionally got the alias Mr Capable. Largely mis perceived as arrogant, Banky speaks very humbly of his music career in Nigeria, how he convinced his parents to let him return for music sake, and why people think he’s arrogant.
Did you expect the pace at which your career has moved between 2008 when you relocated to Nigeria and now?
I’d say yes at the risk of sounding too confident or cocky since I know I’m not such person. I’m actually very humbled by teh way God has brought me and where my fans have brought me, and I’m very appreciative of the position I’m in.
But I think, for anyone doing something like this, you need to have the ability to dream, you have to believe in yourself and you have to dream that you are the best at what you do, and that you’ll get there, whatever your goals are. I was raised to believe that it’s possible to be the best. So, I did expect to be big.
People think my pace is fast because I moved to Nigeria in February 2008 and I’ve only been here for about a year. However, if you think about when I started making music officially, which was in 2003, five years of constant hard work and pouring your savings into a dream without making money from it is not an overnight success.
What brought you to Nigeria in Dec 2007?
Mr Capable... Truly Capable
I came around because my sister- the only daughter of the family, was getting married. I had been in touch with DJ Humility and he actually broke Ebute-Metta here. I went to meet him at Ocean view and the next thing I knew I was to perform without back up dancers. Sometimes, the spontaneous performances are always the best ones and I think the crowd really liked it.
It (Ebute Metta) became so big in Nigeria that it actually put me off from doing any more mix because I didn’t want people to put me in that box.
That definitely opened doors for me in Nigeria and it was the beginning of music for me in Nigeria. Later, I met Chief Dele Momodu outside the country. He had seen me perform in Canada. After the event, he called me aside and said, “See the way all these girls are screaming.
Whatever you’re doing here, school, work, bla,bla is cool. But you have something special that your people back home need.” I knew already before he said so but I was trying to figure out how to go about it.
How was it making up your mind to return?
That kind of decision is never easy because you have a routine you’re already used to. And also it’s tough to explain to your parents that you’re leaving this very good job after going to school for so many years.
Did you tell your parents the truth that you were returning to do music?
Well, I had to at that point because they knew the company I was working for didn’t have a branch in Nigeria. So, I couldn’t come up with that. But for me, it was something I had always dreamt.
It was a thing that if I didn’t come back and at least try, it would forever nag at me and I didn’t want regrets when I’m older with kids. You know how parents always have fabulous tales of things they could have done when they were younger… bla bla.
I didn’t want that. I wanted to test myself to see if I had what it takes to do this (music) full time. What I told my folks was “Listen, this thing is eating at me. If I don’t do this, I’m never really gonna be happy. If I go and God forbid, it doesn’t work out and I fall flat on my face, I already have an education. I can come back and get another job or go back to school and get a second degree or something else afterwards. Just let me try”.
And what did they say?
My parents are lovely people. They encourage and support me in whatever I do. I know they were nervous about me leaving the security of what I had but I told them to just give me a time frame. In fact, it’s funny. I told my parents, “give me a year. Let me see where I end up”.
really, I was just telling them that to get them off my back. When I came back for my sister’s wedding, because I already had a song on radio, people were dragging me to different places. So, I already saw that I fit in. So, basically I went back to America to quit my job, close shop and then break the news to my family that I was moving back.
When precisely did a year start counting?
It started counting February 14, 2008, St. Valentine’s day. That was when I moved back into the country.
While growing up, did you think you’d end up doing this?
Yes, I always dreamt of it.
Have you ever considered taking up acting?
In Nigeria, yes. But not until this album is done. Plus, it would have to be the right script and the right quality for me to do it.
When I was growing up, I did everything in the arts- painting, drawing, singing, acting, wrote plays…. In fact, shout out to my English teacher in secondary school (Mr Oke) who saw something extra in me, especially, my talent in entertainment at Home Science Sec. School.
When I came back to the country, I went to the school, Home Science Secondary School to see him and he said he’d have been surprised if I turned out to be somebody else that didn’t have anything doing with music.
Is there any Nigerian actor you admire?
I’m a huge RMD fan (Richard Mofe Damijo). My growing up years in Lagos made me familiar with him. When I met him at an occasion in December 2007, I was star struck. And then he said he loved my music. I was so shocked and was like ‘oh me’.
It was almost like I was meeting my own version of Denzel Washington.
Why do people perceive you as arrogant?
That’s a bit complicating. The truth of the matter is people have this perception because they only see you on TV and on stage. Te truth is that in a video or on stage, you have to exude a certain energy to captivate an audience. The other thing is that when you’re a public face, you don’t know anyone but everyone knows you.
When people see you and because you didn’t give them that smile or reception that they are looking for, automatically, you are a cocky, arrogant person even though you’re not.